Review of Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005: key recommendations

The final report is now published and finds in broad terms that the Act is working as intended. Areas for improvement include a requirement for third party fire risk assessors to be certificated or registered, and promoting awareness of the Act and fire safety management of premises.

In 2008, concerns were raised around Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 in relation to the implementation of the new fire safety regime in small businesses, in particular small bed and breakfast and self-catering premises, resulting in revised guidance for this sector.

A review of Part 3 of the Act by the Regulatory Review Group (RRG) in respect of fire safety in non-domestic premises gathered evidence from an online questionnaire, written material and two workshops held to ascertain views of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) enforcement staff.

Primary considerations were whether the regulations delivered what Part 3 set out to achieve efficiently and effectively; respected the principles of better regulation; had any unintended consequences and whether these should have been foreseen; identified areas of best practice and considered areas for improvement or lessons to learn.

Key recommendations are as follows:

A requirement for third party fire risk assessors to be certificated or registered to ensure competency and a satisfactory and consistent service, perhaps initially focusing on assessments/assessors in high risk sectors.

A Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment completed to help assess the impact of options, including certification, to ensure that all costs and benefits are considered.

In the shorter term, work by the Scottish Government and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to promote the benefits of third party certification and selection of competent fire risk assessors, including discussions with local authorities regarding their assistance in promoting awareness of the Act.

The SFRS should ensure that duty holders are aware of, and understand, the importance of the ongoing fire safety management of premises. Notwithstanding that fire risk assessments need to be carried out competently, the emphasis on fire safety should be on outcomes rather than process with focus on fire risk management rather than a one-off fire risk assessment.

To support future monitoring, the report suggested that statistics providing a better understanding of the issues and reasons for non-compliance would be helpful, eg were minor or serious risks found and was the assessment carried out by the duty holder or an external assessor?

Commenting for BAFE, chief executive Stephen Adams, said: ‘We have been delighted to participate in the very positive work of the RRG and that the concerns over the competence of fire risk assessors have been recognised. The duty holder has a significant responsibility for fire protection and using third party certificated providers can offer reassurance for their ongoing risk management.’ BAFE is the independent, third party certification registration body for the fire protection industry.

Jon O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association (FPA) said: ‘The FPA welcomes and fully supports all the recommendations in the review, and it is particularly pleasing to see Scotland not only proactively undertaking review of the effectiveness of the legislation, but also being prepared to make significant changes which will improve fire safety. For its part, the FPA will offer to work with the Scottish Government and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to promote the benefits of third party certification and selection of competent fire risk assessors.’

The full report is available at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00490043.pdf